Storylines from the opening round of the NBA playoffs are reminding us that several variables can contribute to postseason success.For example, superstar turns are quite useful when familiarity threatens to breed scoring difficulty. We've also been encouraged to notice the importance of coaching adjustments, commitment to defense and the playmaking abilities of point guards.
2008 NBA playoffs
- Hawks shock Celtics, tie series
- Magic knock out Raptors in five
- Lakers complete sweep of Nuggets
- Hill: Phoenix's ultimate replacement
- Hill: Shrewd drafts a playoff trend
- Rosen: Nelson keys Magic victory
- Kahn: PGs key to these playoffs
- Hill: Suns fans growing restless
- Rosen: Dirk, Dallas avoid disaster
- Kahn: New life for T-Mac, Rockets
- Behrendt: Kobe on top of his game
- Western Conference playoff central
- Eastern Conference playoff central
- Best shots from the first round
- Magic make Raptors disappear
But with several first-round series hurrying toward completion, we haven't acknowledged the meaty role being played by the art of bad drafting ... demonstrated through the work of other teams.
For the record, we're not here to blast those teams who failed to pull the trigger on Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant or Tracy McGrady back in the days when enormously talented high schoolers were more suspects than prospects.
Instead, let's begin with the 2007 NBA Draft, a fine occasion that included Philadelphia's selection of Georgia Tech freshman forward Thaddeus Young with the 12th pick. While Young is assisting the hard-charging and ultra-quick 76ers in their relatively unexpected battle with the Detroit Pistons, we recall that the Atlanta Hawks could have had Thaddeus one pick earlier.
But, hey, the Hawks really needed a point guard (Acie Law was the choice) more than another bouncy forward, which is an issue that provokes us into skipping ahead to 2005.
The Hawks, who did take down the mighty Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their prevailing showdown, had the second pick in '05 and used it to select North Carolina freshman forward Marvin Williams. Although Marvin is developing into a fine pro, he may never reach the level attained by, oh, Deron Williams (he went third to Utah) and some guy currently working in New Orleans named Chris Paul (picked fourth).
Well, at least Atlanta has Mike Bibby.
Hopping back to 2006, we find that Utah was able to pluck big-time contributor Ronnie Brewer at 14, which was three picks later than Orlando snagged pine-sitter J.J. Redick and five selections after Golden State's choice of the immortal Patrick O'Bryant.
The 2004 draft yielded top choice Dwight Howard (no complaints from Orlando there) and the next A.I. The Sixers claimed Andre Iguodala at nine that year, which is one spot lower than the Toronto Raptors who could use Iguodala about now chose the great Rafael Araujo.
Remember, you can't draft too many big men.
It's a good thing the Hawks weren't looking for a center when they selected prep star and attempted Celtics killer Josh Smith at 17 that year.
Anyway, let's move to 2003, a fortuitous draft year for the Raptors, who took current team superstar power forward Chris Bosh with the fourth pick. Imagine how much trickier things would be for Philly if the Pistons had taken Bosh (or Dwyane Wade or Carmelo Anthony) instead of career trivia answer Darko Milicic at No. 2.
But we're not done with the first round from '03, an event that saw New Orleans Hornets star David West (18) chosen nine spots later than the New York Knicks locked in on Michael Sweetney.
The Hawks selected Boris Diaw the star of Phoenix's Game 4 uprising against San Antonio at 21, seven spots before the Spurs took future Suns guard Leandro Barbosa.
The first round of 2003 ended when the Dallas Mavericks drafted Josh Howard at 29. As we now realize, Josh would go much higher later in his career.
Not to be outdone for drafting swings and misses was the first round of 2002. Due to on-court incompetence and a trade, the Denver Nuggets seized two players in the top seven that year. In their bid to fortify the front line, Nickoloz Tskitishvili went No. 5, followed two spots later by Nene.
Memphis Grizzlies president and league logo model Jerry West tabbed power forward Drew Gooden at four, even though some high school kid named Amare Stoudemire was still available. Amare came off the board to Phoenix at nine one spot after the L.A. Clippers went with Chris Wilcox.
The Nuggets and Grizzlies also could have had Caron Butler (10th) that year, while many teams overlooked Tayshaun Prince, who went 23rd to the Pistons. It should be noted that the Milwaukee Bucks charted their current course for disaster by going with Marcus Haislip (remember him?) 10 spots earlier.
L.A. Lakers big man Pau Gasol went nice and early (third) to Memphis in 2001, but Michael Jordan who was building the Washington Wizards powerhouse at the time preferred Kwame Brown with the first overall pick. Ironically, the Lakers gave up Butler to acquire Brown, but really atoned for that move by using Kwame to get Gasol, who sort of impacted the playoffs by going for 36, 16 and 8 in Game 1 against Denver.
By the way, the 28th pick in '01 was a quick point guard from France named Tony Parker, who busted the Suns for 41 in Game 3. OK, we could lob insults at every team passing on Parker, but is should be noted that it even took his coach and top-ranking teammate a while to like him.
We'll conclude this review of drafting disaster by going all the back to 1999 and the 57th overall selection. The Spurs had this pick and used it to land a shooting guard named Manu Ginobili.
He's been a bit of a flop, but it's tough to find good help at 57.